The Owls face the Kent State Golden Flashes for their final regular season game to honor seniors, as kickoff is set for noon on Friday at the Lincoln Financial Field.
Temple holds a 3-2 all-time series advantage against Kent State and will look to capture its eighth win of the year to further solidify its bowl-eligibility status. The Owls currently hold a 7-4 overall record and are 4-3 in Mid-American Conference play, tied for second with the Golden Flashes. Ohio clinched the MAC East Division title with its win against Bowling Green and Miami [OH]’s loss versus Western Michigan last week.
Entering the game, Addazio said at a media press conference on Monday that the offense will have a more balanced attack than its run-heavy approach in its 42-14 win against Army last week. The Golden Flashes have the second-best scoring defense in the conference, behind the Owls, allowing an average of 18.1 points per game.
“I watched [Kent State] play throughout the conference and I could honestly tell you I think they’re outstanding,” Addazio said. “I didn’t really know how good they were until I put the tape on.”
The Golden Flashes (5-6, 4-3 MAC) also enter the game with momentum having won four-straight games and will be looking to capture their sixth overall win to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2006.
“I think they’re playing with confidence, so it should be a great football game on Friday,” Addazio said.
Nationally, the Golden Flashes put up statistics that Addazio highlighted during the press conference. Kent State’s defense is No. 5 in turnovers forced, No. 14 (t) in interceptions (14), and No. 22 in total defense.
The Owls’ offense, which ranks No. 7 in rushing offense nationally with an average of 261.64 yards, will make for a key matchup in the game. Junior running back Bernard Pierce leads the running game with 1,192 total yards on the year. Pierce ranks No. 3 in scoring by recording a single-season school record in touchdowns with 22 on the year and is No. 12 in rushing (119.20 yards per game).
Redshirt-sophomore Chris Coyer is expected to make his third-career start at quarterback for the Owls after going four-of-five for a touchdown and a total of 79 passing yards against Army.
“I think [Kent State is] wired a little like we are,” Addazio said. “They want to run the ball, play great defense, and win the field position battle.”
A win for the Owls would give coach Steve Addazio an eight-win season in his first year as head coach, which would set a new school record. It would also mark a school record for the program’s most-winningest senior class that the Owls reached eight wins in a season for the third consecutive year.
“We’re approaching the game as a playoff game,” senior defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin said. “Knowing it’s the last game, especially for the seniors and [we’ll] try to come out with a victory.”
The Owls are looking to avoid the disappointment that occurred last season when the team lost its last two remaining games and were not asked to attend a bowl game after posting an 8-4 record.
“I know we didn’t go to a bowl game last year, so that’s also feeding the fire,” Griffin said. “We want to go to a bowl game so we know we have to win this game. So hopefully winning this game will solidify being bowl-eligible.”
Senior Day to honor 19 student-atheletes:
-quarterback Chester Stewart
-tight ends: Matt Balasavage, Evan Rodriguez
-wide receiver: Joe Jones, Rod Streater
-offensive linemen: Pat Boyle, Derek Dennis, John Palumbo, Jeremy Schonbrunner, Wayne Tribue
-defensive ends: Morris Blueford, Morkeith Brown, Adrian Robinson
-defensive backs: Kee-ayre Griffin, Kevin Kroboth, Deonte Parker
-linebackers: Stephen Johnson, Quinten White, Tahir Whitehead
Connor Showalter can be reached at email@example.com.